THE ABSENT - out now!


Out Now - For sale on Amazon and other onlne book sellers


Out Now


My first book of poetry available through Amazon and other online booksellers

Friday, July 31, 2009


Although I believe that viewing reports of Barack Obama’s lowering approval ratings as an indicator of his failure in the office of the president are a bit premature, I do think there is a different mindset that needs to be embraced by his administration.

I’ve always been a bit unsure about the concept of injecting stimulus into the economy through these huge government payouts….However, I couldn’t quite describe what it is that bothered me about it….Now I know.

In order to solve a problem, you need to first identify it correctly….The current recession/depression is not similar to the great depression in that this is not a collapse of business due to an inability to offer goods and services at market prices….This economic downturn is also not based on the collapse of trade between the USA and other nations.

Rather this is about the spending habits of American consumers especially when it comes to credit and specifically starting with mortgages and home buying….This is about Americans financing lives they cannot afford on credit instruments and then not being able to pay what they owe when the banks and credit card companies come calling.

I’ve blogged about this before….

You can pass all the spending bills you want, it’s not going to change that….What is first needed is a drastic change in the personal finance habits of the American people….The cold hard reality that many cannot live the lifestyle they want on the salary they make should be driven home if it hasn’t been already.

Once this becomes the focus, only then can the problem be fixed with any sense of permanence….The high unemployment rate is due largely to the credit based industry falling apart and the subsequent belly up of many companies….Banks are also not lending money for the start-up of new business which is where traditionally much innovation has come from….This is a big problem as the USA will increasingly fall behind China and India in this regard if new companies are unable to gather resources to compete.

Once President Obama understands the real problem then he can focus….Bill Clinton didn’t see his own approval ratings go up until the third year of his administration and after a Republican takeover of congress so some trial and error is to be expected.

I also think compromise solutions rushed through the congress on issues such as health care and global warming satisfy no one and solve nothing but that’s another post.


When I first started watching the film SHUTTLE based on the blurbs on the DVD cover and the photos on the back, I expected a typical girls in trouble gorno shocker….Mindless horror movie entertainment for a night’s viewing.

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to discover that after an initial set-up of the main characters and predicament SHUTTLE went in a really unexpected and interesting direction that I didn’t foresee.

Three reasons why this film is better than most….

1.)Tony Curran is the name of the actor who plays the main villain identified only as “The Driver”….He played the part totally within himself and without any over the top hysterics….It’s refreshing to see a film where the villain is not some supernatural psycho who has problems with his mommy and eats human flesh or some other homicidal dysfunction but is really just a criminal after money….One of the better villainous performances I’ve seen because everything he does makes total sense.

2.) The film has several twists and turns in it the biggest one occurring about an hour into the story….It was predictable and I did see it coming but was still handled really really well.

3.) I love downbeat depressing endings because I think they reflect how life works….The ending of this film was a doozy even including a play on the title if you think about it.…Every detail was perfect especially the motion sickness pills….Just don’t ask what the kitty litter is for. LOL!

This was not a perfect film….Would someone in this line of work kill a girl for a yeast infection?....How come the supermarket cashier didn’t call the police?....But there was more that worked than didn’t….SHUTTLE is a cut above other horror films that seek to play on our anxieties about the modern world


Regarding my post the other day about ICHI THE KILLER and the ending….

Had a discussion with a friend of mine last night and here’s what I think….After a series of mini-climaxes that are more bloody and shocking that the ones before it, the ending seems anti-climatic and actually I would say surreal.

That is because I believe the ending is that Kakihara and Ichi are in fact the SAME PERSON….Think about it…They don’t meet until the end and then after Kakihara is kicked in the head and falls to his death, Ichi no longer appears at all….Then when Jiji finds Kakihara’s body there are no marks on his forehead despite us seeing a huge bleeding cut created when Ichi slashed him

This means that Kakihara chose death as an act of free will and also accounts for the last scene in the film when we see Jiiji has hanged himself from a tree as school kids walk past….In the final moments, his creation Kakihara/Ichi chose death and freedom over further control.

Ichi was shown to be created through brainwashing and the implantation of false memories….Why couldn’t Ichi himself be created this way and in fact be a different personality of Kakihara who is already psychopathic and sadomasochistic?

Of course, then the scenes between Ichi and the bodyguard whose son he saved from bullies comes up but I don’t see why that couldn’t also be fantasy at least the part where he takes him out eat after Ichi gets thrown out of the strip club.

The scene where Kakihara deafens himself with needles at the end is his recognition of what is real and is that point Ichi attacks him....

Food for thought….Interested in any other ICHI fans’ thoughts.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


What I like about Japanese and Korean horror/suspense films is they really get down to it and are not afraid to show you anything unlike American horror films which always promise more than they deliver and in fact seem afraid of going too far….That restraint seems cowardly and in the end the viewer is left unfulfilled….And by restraint I don’t mean gratuitous sex and violence, I’m talking about what is actually scary and disturbing and challenging to the viewer not just a series of images guaranteed to titillate or produce other conditioned responses.

I’ve seen three very interesting films (two Japanese and one Korean) over the last week)….

This may in fact be the most violent movie I’ve ever seen (so much for gratuitous violence) but the gore is so cartoonish the cruelty so fast and continuous that one gets numb after while….This is a movie that one needs to pause periodically as you just need a break from the ongoing wave of disgusting yet hypnotic imagery….The meaning of the ending could be discussed for days afterwards….I challenge anyone in Western cinema to make a movie so full of berserk energy….The outfits of the character Kakihara are amazing also….A truly original film (I believe it’s based on a manga).

Not as violent or as powerful as ICHI but a more subtle and deeper film….The plot about a series of mass suicides throughout Japan is complex and interesting….The solution is also clever….Having a teenage girl band be an evil force is a stroke of genius….I also liked the underlying message of connecting with yourself and consequently life as opposed to connecting to life through other people….Contains the strangest musical number I have ever seen( about ¾’s of the way through involving a character named Genesis).

This Korean film is a bit more mainstream than the others I just described but it’s also creepier….The idea here involves a curse that causes friends and family members to attack you unexpectedly and attempt to kill you….This premise really work and there are moments in this film that really make you jump….I like any movie where everyone dies at the end….Including the end, there are many scenes one might not expect to find in an American film.


I recently downloaded the shortened Oprah version of Randy Pausch’s LAST LECTURE for a leadership workshop my school was doing….I’ve been reflecting on it and while it may not be a popular thing to say, I have some criticism of this of this pop culture phenomenon.

This is set up as lessons learned about life and following your dreams from a man who is going to die soon(and did) which is fine….However, every one of Pausch’s anecdotes and examples refer back to himself and basically, whether he meant it or not, he is saying I am a great and special person which very well be true but that’s not a great life lesson in my opinion.

For example, he tells the story of working well with others but that turns into what a great guy he was because he took the graduate students who helped him with his PhD research to Disneyland and paid for everything.

Another example, he explains how he made his niece not feel uncomfortable about damaging his new car so she was okay about throwing up in it later and he did not get upset.

There is nothing wrong with any of these stories but this is not the approach I would use in a similar situation.

Too many times, Pausch falls into what the Buddhists call “the trap of self”….America with its sick celebrity addled culture and self-mythologizing, has replaced normal conversation with statements about self followed by other people making statements about themselves….This is not what the world needs….In fact what the world needs in this day and age is less the cult of individualism, more let’s work together to fix things.

America and the world need more humility and less ego….We can see that in every problem that is currently faced from global warming to terrorism and the Middle East.

Enough biography as life lesson! I would say….More I celebrate myself in the Walt Whitman way in that how about all of us have something to contribute and are part of a whole?

I salute Randy Pausch’s bravery and the fact he wanted to leave behind a record for his young children who will never get to know him….This is however not what the world needs today- a personal project that has been blown up to national proportions all to further establish the mindset of me, myself and I.


I first encountered THINGS FALL PART on the IGCSE text list….I found this interesting because I had never heard of this book before….It wasn’t a book I’d ever run across in the United States but it is apparently well known and considered a classic in the UK.

After reading it, I would have to say that I consider this book more on a young adult, early college years reading level than as a mature work of fiction.

First, what I like about it is the methodical descriptions of day in day out tribal living….The books is ostensibly about the impact of colonial white man rules on the already orderly society of Nigerian tribal life….Part one wherein we are shown the daily life of the tribe in particular the main character Okonkwo with his strengths and also the flaws (particularly pride) that will trip him up later is written simply and clearly….The narrator keeps out of it and there are no value judgments delivered despite there being some barbaric practices described (such as leaving twin babies to die in the jungle as they are considered a bad omen).

Part two which introduces the destructive behavior of colonial British in particular missionaries is where the book bogs down(despite the very obvious quote from THE SECOND COMING by Yeats on the title page)….The connection the reader is supposed to make between how good life was before and how one way of life is destroyed by another way of life that is more aggressive and has no respect of African tribal customs is very sudden and not built up at all….It segues very very fast from the first section to the next….The hero being in exile for a period of time before does help build the construction of the narrative but there’s just not enough detail and everything is so sudden that the final result feels a bit incomplete.

This is one of the few books I’ve ever read that could have been benefited by being longer.

Still, this is a short concise read with a well-laid out description of a life that most people have never thought about….The author of THINGS FALL APART, Chinua Achebe(a Nigerian who lives and teaches in the USA), has written other books and I am interested enough to read them one day.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Paddy McAloon is the greatest songwriter never to have gotten his due….As the main singer guitarist everything of Prefab Sprout, starting in the early 80’s, he has created seven albums of amazingly complex delicate but still extremely catchy music featuring some of the most literate lyrics to have ever been featured in a pop song.

Their masterpiece IMO is their second release STEVE MCQUEEN or as I got to know it by the American title TWO WHEELS GOOD….At his full songwriting peak, every song is a gem….few albums can boast to contain tracks like APPETITE, GOODBYE JOHNNY, WHEN THE ANGELS, MOVING THE RIVER, HALLELUJAH, BONNY much less one song as good as that.

The word “haunting” is what always comes to mind….The lyrics are fabulous as I’ve just mentioned but you don’t to reads them to feel the full effect of the subtle, niggling melodies that seem like a walk across the moors to a manor house where you encounter that which has broken your heart and made you a weaker person but never fails to tantalize you and drag you onwards.

Also the secret weapon on much of Prefab’s recordings was Wendy Smith who sang back-up….Her icy voice was produced in a way that it came across like a disembodied spirit popping in and out of the mix, an instrument in and of itself that set off the drama in the music and further enhanced a unique sound.
Some of my favorite Prefab songs....

The last song I REMEMBER THAT is from their third album and for me it makes time cease to have relevance as we sustain ourselves through memories only (if we must).


Re: my earlier post on the man in the seat movie review icon....Here's an article about the artist who created it and how it came together....


Read this article….

Now I wouldn’t want to live the way this guy does dumpster diving and sleeping in a cave but there’s a lot to this quote….

“Money represents lack. Money represents things in the past (debt) and things in the future (credit), but money never represents what is present."

Recalling the film a few years back INTO THE WILD and now this story brings to mind how unhealthy for mind body and soul the work money life is….I’m not a religious person but it’s interesting how original Christianity was so much about lack of selfishness and being free from material concerns including the most selfish of all ….acquiring possessions.

For me, as I’ve blogged about before , I believe this mindset is partly put in place by a system that wants a populace that is distracted by materialism….This is their control mechanism so people don’t question how f*cked up things are….People basically want the newest things for several reasons-to compete with one another, because they are new therefore they must be good, etc.

But people also want the newest goods as some sort of consolation for the robotic dignity sucking lives they live….I have money therefore I must spend it!....See I’ve something to show for myself!....I am not a failure….

However, I feel the current economic crisis is causing a rethink in the more developed countries of the world….Priorities are shifting as people realize their lifestyles are unhealthy and destructive not just to them but also their families and the environment around them

Won’t be long before more people end up in caves or something similar I predict

Friday, July 24, 2009


During my teenage years, I spent some amount of time in the San Francisco Bay Area and I used to really enjoy reading the San Francisco Chronicle which I think is (or was when I used to read it) one of America’s best put together newspapers….The layout , the graphics, the quality of the writing-Superb!

My favorite part of the reading the San Francisco Chronicle was the pink DATEBOOK section which appeared in the extra-large Sunday edition….This contained everything there was to do in the city from restaurants to music to movie reviews.

The movie reviews were my favorite….I especially liked the moviegoer icons.

I just found that communicating the level of quality and interest in this manner to be every memorable….I especially like the middle one where the guy is just staring at the screen….so many times we go to movie and our reactions are blank like that....Neither negative or positive....Just blah!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I’ve never been a fan of Vampire related fiction be it books or movies or anything else. …I just don’t find them particularly scary….I don’t find them erotic or anything romantic or interesting about them….The original vampire novel DRACULA was well-written and scary and didn’t confuse the story with all type of psychological BS something that would be a real problem in subsequent works….Modern vampire lore is in a word-awful-substituting all kinds of explanations such as illness for the vampiric condition and also injecting sick sexual imagery and other sensationalist whatnot.

That being said, I was very pleasantly surprised by the Swedish vampire film LET THE RIGHT ONE IN which aside from being an excellent well-made film genuinely does a credible job with the vampire premise….The story here is about a much bullied 12 year old boy who befriends his new next door neighbor, a young girl who doesn’t wear warm clothing or shoes despite it being the middle of winter with snow on the ground, only comes out at night, and throws up when tempted to try a piece of candy….Yes, she’s a vampire but one who apparently feels loneliness.

There are a number of subplots all presented logically and in a complete fashion (this is based on a popular novel)….The most interesting part of the film is how to view the relationship between the vampire girl and the boy….He is 12 and when he asks her age she says “12 more or less” it brings to mind an interesting point….This creature is still a girl but mentally has lived for ages and is basically immortal.

And does she really love her young playmate?….At the beginning, she has an elderly human who helps her get blood….It is never explained what their relationship is.

So can the vampire feel emotion or is it just looking for a new human assistant to help do her dirty work?

A very interesting plot point and one I would love to discuss with other fans of this film.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I recently saw the remake of FRIDAY THE 13TH and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was both an effective reboot and remake of this horror series.

What the new FRIDAY THE 13TH gets right (and where remakes of HALLOWEEN and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE failed) is cleverly combining re-made elements of the first movie (Jason Voorhee’s mother flashback scene) with a film that also feels like it is part of the on-going franchise (albeit better than the last few FRIDAY THE 13TH films).

The new film manages to introduce some new elements courtesy of Jason’s relationship with his mother but without going overboard with dippy psychology (like the HALLOWEEN remake)….It also clearly states that Jason is mentally retarded which is an interesting angle.

One important detail of 1980’s slasher films that remains intact and one could say improved on is the notion that the murderer is actually some sort of puritanical force that punishes teenagers who engage in sex, drugs, and other forbidden behavior….It is always the nice girl who survives at the end and the misbehaving teenagers who get killed.

The new movie is no different and starts out with a subplot about a near mythical gigantic field of marijuana plants in the woods….The characters who discover this field are quickly dispatched by Jason….There is quite a lot of sex and nudity in this film (more I think than the original series) and of course those who are involved end up murdered in horrible ways.

The Jason as indestructible killer element of the series is downplayed here except for the ending where he does indeed come back from the dead….Here Jason is much more clever and nimble and can avoid the various acts of violence that happen to him in the regular series….Instead, he strikes first and with great speed.

The original FRIDAY THE 13TH is a fantastic film….A well-made scary film with creepy visuals and a great ending….I had it at #66 on my list of best 100 films….Towards the end of the series of the many sequels, it started to get a little ridiculous with Jason fighting a psychic girl, going to New York City, going to hell(which might be like going to New York City), being put in suspended animation and waking up in the future on a spaceship, and battling Freddy Krueger.

The new FRIDAY THE 13TH gets the series back on track by not changing anything major but giving back the film a more serious tone with more scares for the audience and a more modern look….Slasher films are a guilty pleasure of mine but one doesn’t have to feel guilty when they are well-made.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I’ve come to the conclusion that is now physically impossible for a male tennis player to win all four of the grand slam events in the same calendar year….This is due to not only the tennis calendar and the demands of each surface but also the depth of competition in men’s tennis.

This is now the only remaining accomplishment that has so far eluded Roger Federer but he has been in all four finals in one year winning three out of four twice….The only obstacle in his path was Rafael Nadal.

Now, there are those that say Federer’s two recent victories in the French Open and Wimbledon were only possible because of Nadal’s absence.

My response to that is fitness is part of the game of tennis….Federer’s amazing, peerless sustained excellence drove Nadal to be even better and in doing so, considering the extremely physical demanding type of tennis Nadal plays, has caused him to overdo it and damage his body.

To me, this is as much a part of competition as the lengthy fifth set we saw in Sunday’s Wimbledon final….Yes, Nadal has a winning record against Federer but Federer by remaining injury free while playing at top form and reclaiming the #1 ranking has won, at the moment, the battle for tennis posterity between them.

I would also like to say that I wrote some critical comments about Andy Roddick a month or so ago….I still stand by what I said but he really did play about as well as I’ve ever seen him play on Sunday….At the end, he simply cracked when confronted by an opponent who refused to….I’ve just run out of adjectives for Roger Federer….His resolve in breaking Pete Sampras’s record as well as the overall career he has had is something we might never see again in our lifetimes.

And oh yeah HE’S #1 AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Re-read 1984 in preparation for the first term of Year 11 literature….I’m excited to teach this text and I imagine the students will find those lot more interesting and related to world events that other texts we have done.

George Orwell has lost a bit of his luster over the last ten years or so….The fact he may have been a rat who kept tab on others for the British Government being an extremely damaging revelation for a writer who offered his own integrity as a guarantor of his writing….I find that in retrospect having a contrary nature wherein you must always take the opposite side of an argument is not always a sign of great integrity….Sometimes it just means you’re an a**hole who likes to draw attention to himself.

When your #1 fan is a drunken moronic colonialist such as Christopher Hitchens who deep down inside wishes for a return to empire as he doesn’t seem to understand that a democracy a country chooses is sometimes not necessarily always going to fit with what first world nations want to see , uses atheism to hide a prejudice against Muslims, and supported the Iraq war and the whole kit and caboodle of lies and propaganda that went with it….The last one is fitting considering the use of Newspeak in discussions of “extraordinary renditions” “shock and awe” and countries automatically becoming democracies in the Middle East, it does not bode your legacy well.

However, I’m pleased to say that 1984 is a still great book….Its nearly perfect in its construction with the society of Oceania as the ultimate totalitarian state where everything within humanity is to be replaced by ultimate devotion to the state.

However, how this is accomplished is a question worth debating….In particular, this line (which I believe has been disproved).

“But it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction -- indeed, in some sense was the destruction -- of a hierarchical society. In a world in which everyone worked short hours, had enough to eat, lived in a house with a bathroom and a refrigerator, and possessed a motor-car or even an aeroplane, the most obvious and perhaps the most important form of inequality would already have disappeared. If it once became general, wealth would confer no distinction. It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.”

When I was in high school, one of my English teachers did a series of lessons where they compared the dictatorships of 1984 and BRAVE NEW WORLD….They use opposite approaches to achieve the same end….While I think 1984 is a vastly superior book in plot, characterization, and style, BRAVE NEW WORLD has more relevance to today’s situation (especially in America) .

In fact, the opposite of 1984 has really proven to be more effective in keeping down a society of happily distracted deliberately stupid proles….People who know nothing except the most idiotic form of entertainment and the drilled in desire for the acquisition of material possessions as some sort of essential stapled to life will not complain when their country commits horrendous atrocities around the world.

You don’t need the Leon Trotsky figure Emmanual Goldstein as a boogeyman….Any number of lesser subjects will do but even better is the constant search for pleasure….Of course, you will end up with a population of citizens who behave like teenagers even when they are middle-aged but I guess that’s the point….Less thinking!

I think loss of freedom of speech is not the worst thing that can happen to a society….Loss of a desire for nobility and greatness is worse….Misplaced priorities as a nation are worse.

So I am looking forward to teaching Orwell but I don’t view it as anything historically analogous to the America (or for that matter EU nations) of today.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


"My great ambition has always prevented me from doing anything."

THE LOCUST HAVE NO KING is the second novel I have read by Dawn Powell this year. The first being ANGELS ON TOAST

LOCUST shares Powell’s unique insight into different strata’s of New York social structure and consequently is also a reflection on greater America as a whole. A bustling, vibrant America in the grasp of both pre and post World War II booms filled with dog eat dog social climbers, star-crossed love affairs, the eccentric wealthy, drunken cynics, and all manner of entertaining lowlifes from all different levels of society.

In this case, the setting is New York’s publishing industry and to a lesser extent the theatre. The star crossed lovers in this case are Frederick Olliver, a college professor and writer of meticulously researched but dull historical novels and Lyle Gaynor, one half of a playwriting duo with the other half being her domineering crippled husband Alan.

The third player in this story is Dodo Brennan, a shrill young woman of such spectacular vulgarity and absolutely no morals and who is so ridiculous and over the top that every scene she appears in makes the reader wince. Yet, somehow Powell pulls off this character.

The pace of this novel is far less frenetic than ANGELS. The title (from a biblical quotation) refers to how living things can move and interconnect in an organized way without an apparent leader like a school of fish which is very apropos to the organized chaos in this story. What keeps this story going are the characters. Their development is deep and extensive. Powell must have had a lot of patience to develop characters this way. I agree with the blurb on the book’s back jacket which states Powell dissects characters “with the patience of a pathologist removing organs for inspection”.

However, Powell was well-known for the sense of humor in her work and this book is just not as screamingly funny as other things she wrote. Perhaps this is because some of the scenes seem a bit long which dilutes the humor. I think forty pages could have easily been cut out especially the scenes involving Caroline Drake and Lorna Leahy who seem to be in the narrative as some sort of Greek chorus but end up having lengthy scenes to themselves that serve no purpose. On the flip side, the relationship between Alan Gaynor and a new maid, which is very important to the end of the book, is only shown to us in one scene. It should have been developed more since it means a lot to the resolution of the storyline.

Don’t get me wrong….This is a good read and, overall, I enjoyed it but it doesn’t flow as well as ANGELS for the reasons I’ve already stated. I still look forward to reading much more of Dawn Powell.

That being said, I would like to say that the ending, a happy one, where Lyle and Frederick re-state their love for one another as an announcement of the Bikini Atoll nuclear tests play on the radio is very moving….Love is, in the end, what keeps us safe and connected to the world.


Read this article and found it interesting….

The idea presented is that President Obama is a cheerleader for change not an actual effective agent of change….He is content to get passed meaningless legislation full of loopholes in order to give the impression he is getting things done….The climate change bill and the healthcare plan are offered as examples of this….In behaving this way, President Obama is seen as weak perhaps deliberately so.

Now I am still fairly happy with President Obama so let me posit another theory.

After the 1994 election which saw the Republicans take over both houses of Congress, Bill Clinton adopted a strategy of allowing and highlighting the Republican Party’s obfuscation as well as reacting to their ideas….The end result of this was they got the lion’s share of the blame for the shutdown of the federal government and when the economy picked up due to the IT boom, President Clinton got most of the credit and soaring poll numbers.

Obama might be trying a similar rope a dope strategy although the situation is very different here as his party is firmly in control of both houses or he could be recognizing that despite his mandate upon coming into office with a large electoral college majority as well as big Democratic gains, the language of fear used by the right such as referring to any change to the status quo of American health care as “socialized medicine” or to global warming as fiction created by crazy environmentalists is very effective.

Perhaps his goal is merely to get something out there so in the future an even more progressive president of an even more progressive America, an America perhaps made this way by the failure to solve these problems, can finish the job.

Let’s hope change can really come now and such tactics will not be necessary.